Loyd, the Graphics Snob

So I picked up the PC version of GTA: Vice City to see what all the fuss was about.

It was terrible.

Actually, I don’t know if the gameplay was terrible, even though I probably put in about fifteen hours.

But I disliked it immensely, and my opinion was colored by the really crappy graphics.

Even though I’m a hardware guy, I’ve always bought into the “gameplay is king” paradigm. It doesn’t bother me that Age of Wonder’s graphics look dated, for example. But for some reason, the graphics in GTA: Vice City gave me the “GOD, PLEASE STOP RUNNING YOUR FINGERNAILS ON THE CHALKBOARD!!!” reaction.

After playing Splinter Cell, Morrowind and even Raven Shield, the graphics in GTA look pre-1999. Oh, well.

Anything in particular? Textures? Character models? Lighting?

The graphics seem decent to me but not spectacular. I run the game at 1280x1024 with that fancypants Quincunx AA on and it works for me. My biggest beef is probably how even the allegedly higher-res textures of the PC version still look pretty blah compared to other current titles. Still, you did call yourself a graphics snob, so there’s no real debate here. :D

Let me count the ways…

  • Lousy, low-res textures. If these are higher res than the PS/2 version,
    then double-ugh.

  • low poly count models with square shoulders and necks that are
    so 1999.

  • terrible character animation. "Stiff"doesnt’ begin to describe it.

  • THE COLORS. AAAAGGGHHH, THE COLORS.

The one thing I did like about the game was the radio station idea. Now that was cool.

Let me count the ways…

  • Lousy, low-res textures. If these are higher res than the PS/2 version,
    then double-ugh.

  • low poly count models with square shoulders and necks that are
    so 1999.

  • terrible character animation. "Stiff"doesnt’ begin to describe it.

  • THE COLORS. AAAAGGGHHH, THE COLORS.

The one thing I did like about the game was the radio station idea. Now that was cool.[/quote]

Is it better than the original GTA3 on the pc ? All the screenshots I have seen of Vice City look great. I thought GTA3’s graphics were very good albeit slow.

The graphics aren’t great. The colors are meant to reflect a Miami Vice feel. Hence the name of the game…

The game itself is BRILLIANT.

Maybe the designers watched Miami Vice while on acid?

That may be so. But I just couldn’t bet past what I thought was some
of the ugliest 3D I’d seen in a long time. And I’ve seen some ugly 3D,
believe me.

If they want to give everyone a Miami Vice feel, I suggest they include a 30ish Sheena Easton with every copy. I’d buy 10 copies (because 11 would be ostentatious)!

I can be a graphics snob as much as the next person, but it’s not really fair to compare GTA3 to Splinter Cell and other similar games. How your graphics look in a game isn’t just limited by the talent of the artists working on the project, or the length of time you have. It’s determined by hard facts about the numbers of polygons and textures you can have on the screen at once.

Fire up Splinter Cell or Raven Shield and count the number of characters and detailed vehicles you have on the screen at once. You’re likely to come up with numbers that are directly related to how good you think the graphics are. The more limited the environment, the more polygons you have to spend in each area. You also have to consider how tightly you can control those numbers. So…

Splinter Cell = short view distance, small areas, few complex vehicles, no more than 4 characters on screen at once through most of the game.

Raven Shield = somewhat larger areas and view distances, a few more complex vehicles, and no more than 10-12 characters on screen at once.

GTA3 = huge open environments, up to 6 complex vehicles, and as many as 15 characters on screen at once.

Morrowind is a bit better comparison, but even then it’s really rare you have more than 10 characters on screen at once, and they don’t have the cars also eating up their poly/texture budget. That’s why MMORPG graphics always end up not quite where single player games are graphically–they have a lot of characters on the screen at once, and they have no control over what that actual number is, so they have to compromise their graphics to ensure it will (hopefully) maintain a decent framerate.

Sorry if I sound like I’m lecturing. I just have to deal with that limitation. And on Full Spectrum Warrior, where you’re guaranteed to have 8 characters on screen through parts of the game before we even start talking about enemies or bystanders, you can get an idea of what we’re trying to deal with. :-)

I’m with Laralyn on this one. The graphics are fine for what it needs to do: give you a fully realized city with minimal load time and a rock solid framerate.

Sure it’s no Splinter Cell, but you don’t hijack a helecopter and take off hundreds of feet in the air in SC either.

As for the colors, yes it’s cheezy, but that’s the 80s for you. :)

Having followed this business for a long time, I can appreciate the challenges. So let me point out another one: Battlefield 1942.

You have a huge open environment, 4-10 vehicles and up to 64 characters running around on the screen at the same time. Now, I can appreciate the fact that, if you look closely, the poly counts are low, especially on the buildings. But when you see something like the Berlin map, which can get absolutely insane, and check out the relative detail, then I think GTA is even uglier.

Granted, Rockstar had to work within the limitations of the PS/2 architecture. But BF1942 illustrates what can be done for a title that’s designed for the PC. (I’ve heard that DICE had to actually abandon an Xbox port because it was technically too challenging, but I dunno if that’s true.)

And, ya know, the graphics in BF1942 aren’t that complex. But they look vastly better.

GTA3 and Vice City don’t look that great, but I can’t believe the graphics would keep someone from playing them. It’s not that bad. I still play 3D PSX games. Hey Loyd, try playing Vagrant Story sometime. Vice City will start to look like the Final Fantasy movie.

And as long as Laralyn keeps talking about Full Spectrum Warrior, I’ll agree with whatever she says.

Having followed this business for a long time, I can appreciate the challenges. So let me point out another one: Battlefield 1942.

[snip]

And, ya know, the graphics in BF1942 aren’t that complex. But they look vastly better.[/quote]

Graphics snob and snooty chauvinist. :wink: Sorry, I am just siding with Laralyn because she is hotter than you Loyd.

How Cathcart even knows what great graphics are when he has his nose firmly planted in the nether regions of a GBA all day, I have no idea.

I’ll happily accept the graphics snob title, but not the snooty chauvinist. It’s impossible to be a chauvinist with two daughters ;-)

I suspect the problem is that the original assets targeted the PS2 and it’s too late to really clean them up for higher-end hardware. Otherwise, it’s pretty trivial to scale on the PC and I consider that one of the hallmarks of a great PC graphics engine.

So in the end it’s a great business decision, but the game does look like a pretty average DX7 title released in the early days of DX9.

And I’m not siding with Laralyn 'cuz I’m a mean old curmudgeon, bah…

I’d say BF1942 does look better, but on average there are less objects, structures, characters (AI) in one given area of BF compared to VC. Berlin can get away with more because it is much smaller then Vice City.

Definitely the PS2 hinders the PC version of VC though, I mean it’s only a slightly updated version of GTA3 which came out almost 2 years ago? But the style is very unique in a lot of ways which gives it a certain charm that enables me not only to enjoy but appreciate some of the graphics in VC and GTA3.

[quote=“Case”]

I’ll happily accept the graphics snob title, but not the snooty chauvinist. It’s impossible to be a chauvinist with two daughters ;-)[/quote]
I have a two year old girl and I am still a mall-leering pig. When does that stop?

Oh and graphics, shmaphics. Its fun. Maybe the time they would have spent making it shinier for Lord…er I mean, Loyd Case would have taken from the “fun” development.

[size=2]Laralyn - What’re you wearing?[/size]

Wait 'til she’s a preteen, or tries sports.

Nah, I like fun a lot more than To… er, as much as anyone.
I sorta recognize that my reaction to Vice City’s graphics was somewhat
pathological, which is why I posted. Posting here is better than therapy!

:lol:

LOL! Hey, I’d be talking more if people were asking questions. ;-)

I’ve had a second computer dedicated to playing the Half-Life 2 trailer on a loop since May. Ocassionaly I look away from it, but only to play GBA games or watch the Full Spectrum Warrior demo from E3.

"Posting here is better than therapy! "

You’re prescription:
Try the game for another 2 hours. Preferably with a good gamepad for driving with classic control style and mouse+keyboard for percision aiming on foot with standard control style.
Then post here in the morning.